Direct experience in nature is diminishing. Direct experience in nature is critical.
Remember when you were new in the job market, (…the chicken and the egg scenario…)? If so, you know how difficult it is to get that first job without any direct, “first hand” experience. As human beings our job is to co-exist in the natural environment – nuturing while growing, and harvesting.
So it comes as no surprise that nature is important to a child’s development in every major way — intellectually, emotionally, socially, spiritually, and physically. In one of his latest books, “Building for Life: Designing and Understanding the Human-Nature Connection” (Island Press, 2005), Dr. Stephen R. Kellert of Yale University devotes a chapter to the topic, “Nature and Childhood Development.” Combining his original studies with well-documented references to the research of others, this chapter is a powerful synthesis of what we know, and what we do not know, about the importance of nature to children’s healthy development.
Kellert states, “Play in nature, particularly during the critical period of middle childhood, appears to be an especially important time for developing the capacities for creativity, problem-solving, and emotional and intellectual development.” He includes research to indicate optimal learning opportunities at age-appropriate times and differentiates between indirect, vicarious, and direct experiences with nature — with the latter less and less available to children. He urges designers, developers, educators, political leaders and citizens throughout society to make changes in our modern built environments to provide children with positive contact with nature — where children live, play, and learn. (Original Research and Synthesis).
This sort of research assures parents of the importance that outdoor playground equipment
anchored into a natural and inviting setting will make in their kids’ childhood experiences. The benefits are too many to quantify.
Reference Resource: Kellert, Stephen R. “Nature and Childhood Development.” In Building for Life: Designing and Understanding the Human-Nature Connection. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2005. Full book available via Amazon.com and other commercial sources.
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